Spring into Action with a New Recipe!

Shrimp Spring Rolls

Vietnamese spring rolls were adapted from Chinese spring rolls. During the Eastern Jin Dynasty in China (265 to 420 AD), people made mini cake wraps with vegetables to welcome the onset of spring. Biting into a veggie-filled spring roll was believed to bring good fortune for a bountiful harvest. Overtime, spring cakes evolved into rolls and underwent adaptations throughout Asia.

 

SERVES: 4 PREP: 30 min COOK: 50 min

 

Spring Rolls Dipping Sauce
1 lb shrimp (36/40 size) 

½ lb pork leg 

1 head green leaf lettuce

2 – 3 sprigs of mint

1 small bunch chives

1 pack rice paper

1 pack rice vermicelli (starchless)

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 8 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 ½ tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: chili paste

Dipping Sauce

  1. Mince 2 tbsp of garlic.
  2. Use medium heat to heat up your pain with 2 tbsp of oil. Sauté the minced garlic until fragrant. Turn heat to low.
  3. Add in 8 tbsp hoisin sauce, 2 ½ tbsp peanut butter, and 1 cup water. Stir well.
  4. Bring to boil, turn off, heat, and let cool.

Spring Rolls

  1. Place ½ lb pork leg into a small pot and fill the pot with water to ~1.5 inches above the pork. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar. 
  2. Bring to a boil on high heat then lower to medium-high for ~30 min Check that the pork leg is no longer pink in the middle.
  3. Peel the shrimp shells and remove tails. Devein the shrimp if needed.
  4. Fill a pot with water, add ½ tsp salt, and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp. Boil for ~2 min on medium high until the shrimp is no longer translucent in the middle.
  5. Cook ⅓ of the rice vermicelli package according to packet instructions. Drain and cool noodles under cold running water.
  6. Add some warm water to a large bowl to dip the rice paper in. Dip each rice paper sheet and ensure it’s wet evenly for ~5 seconds before making each roll. Place rice paper onto a flat plate.
  7. Add 3 shrimp near the bottom and leave about 1 – 1.5 inch of space on each side.
  8. Layer 2 – 3 leaves of lettuce, a few mint leaves, and chive leaf near the middle. Add pork on top of the veggies. Layer a small bundle of noodles evenly atop the pork.
  9. Fold the sides in so it’s snug. Then fold the bottom up to cover the rice noodles. Keep the roll tight, so lightly squeeze it together as you roll. 

Check out her cookbook: Hometown Flavors: Vietnamese Recipes with Vibrant Origins

Fresh Spring Roll, Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls With Lettuce, Bea
Fresh Spring Roll, Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with lettuce, bean sprouts, vermicelli noodles and shrimps served with peanut dipping sauce on a black slate tray, view from above, flatlay, close-up

2020 Iron Prof Contest

This year’s Iron Prof event was successfully held on February 4th at World Café Live, Over 150 students, faculty, and staff listened as Professors Gad Allon, Peter Conti-Brown, and Peter Fader presented their most riveting academic research. The audience learned about the gig economy and its psychological impact on workers, a “feud” about public education in Minnesota, and the impact valuing a company’s customers can have on its stock price. Dean Howie also shared information about Wharton’s Teaching Excellence Initiative, which encourages professors to become outstanding communicators and engaging teachers. Attendees voted Professor Peter Fader as 2020’s winner of the Iron Prof title. WGA sponsored the event.

For the HUMANkind

In January 2020, Natalie Miller, a first-year MBA student at Wharton, arranged the Wharton Health Care Club Blood Drive, the first blood donation camp arranged by an MBA student at Wharton, in association with the American Red Cross, and we interviewed her about the experience

1. Why was the Blood Drive important to you?

Amidst all the craziness in our busy lives, it is easy to take our health for granted. For patients who sadly are sick, I want to help ensure that lifesaving blood is available for those who need it–friends, relatives, and strangers alike.
2. We know that you have organized such Blood Drives prior to Wharton. Was the Wharton Blood Drive different from the others? If so, how?
I had participated in many blood drives in the past as a blood donor, but January’s Wharton Health Care Club blood drive was the first drive that I organized myself. With the large, convenient space we have at 2401 Walnut Street, I thought that hosting a blood drive there would be a great way for the MBA community to give back.
3. Were there obstacles? If so, how did you deal with them?
Initially, there were some logistical obstacles around reserving the space and ensuring proper insurance coverage for an event like this. But working with the WGA along with the Student Life Office, we were able to successfully pull it off!
4. How was the response?
The turnout was great! Between Wharton students along with Wharton partners, we had ~30 people come out to donate. In the end, we collected 22 pints of blood which can help save 66 lives!
5. Are you planning more such events?
The next Wharton Health Care Blood Drive is being planned for the fall semester, on September 22, 2020! Given the success, we hope to continue the drive once a semester into the future.

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Beyond the Taj

Bike your way to the 14th-century ruins of Hampi… Climb 350 steps to the 30 magnificent rock-cut caves of Ajanta … Rejuvenate in the ‘Shikara’ on the Alleppey Backwaters … There are a plethora of things to do and experience during your next vacation in India, beyond your Taj Mahal visit, and believe me, these ‘other’ sites are as breathtaking as the ‘Taj’. In this article, I will briefly introduce you to some of my favorite holiday destinations in India. Architectural and scenic beauty, combined with state-of-the-art tourism infrastructures, these destinations will revivify your five senses. So, pack your bags and let’s go!

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Remember the Jackie Chan movie “The Myth”? Shot in Hampi, even the veteran cinematographer could not do justice to the beauty of Hampi that you will perceive when you are on-site. The historical ruins of the Vijaynagar Empire, in the state of Karnataka, is unparalleled in charm and eminence. An overnight train from Bangalore city will take you to your destination which is studded with affordable and luxury lodging facilities. Echoing the quote by Edith Wharton, “One of the great things about travel is you find out how many good, kind people there are”, at Hampi, the local inhabitants will further amplify your delights. One of the safest places in the country for tourists, Hampi keeps mesmerizing me more and more with every visit. Alongside the ruins, you will find the towering Virupaksha Temple. My personal favorite monument is the Vittala Temple with its ‘musical pillars’. Yes, you heard it right! The 56 musical pillars, also known as the SaReGaMa pillars, produce musical tones when struck by hand. The Divine mysteries of this UNESCO World Heritage Site continue to enthrall me. It is said that the black scorpions of the Vittala Temple never sting the devotees. While you unravel such enigma, don’t forget the trek to the Hemakuta Hill for that picturesque sunset.

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Carved out in the mountains of Western India, the Ajanta Caves will revitalize your mind, body, and soul. Built between 200 B.C and 500 A.D., the Ajanta Caves are a repertoire of the artistic brilliance of the humankind. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a collection of Buddhist paintings, murals, sculptures, and rock-cut Temples. It is believed that several Buddhist Monks spent their time at the Ajanta caves, during the monsoons, when were forbidden from traveling. During this time, the Monks concocted an abundance of creative masterpieces within the realms of the Ajanta Caves. Located 105 km from Aurangabad, tourists can expect comfortable commuting to and from the site. Aurangabad is a sprawling city with almost all tourist amenities. 

The Ellora caves are located about 30 km towards the west of Aurangabad. Unlike Ajanta caves, these caves date between 5th and 11th century A.D. In addition to Buddhist monasteries, Ellora caves are home to Hindu and Jain temples. I still remember my Grandmother talking about her fond memories of the pillars that rendered sounds of “Tabla”, an Indian musical instrument, when struct by hand. The Kailasa Temple is regarded as the greatest monolithic structure in the world. The virtuosity, elegance, and scale exemplify the zenith of skills of those ancient times. Be prepared to be spell-bound.

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I will let only the photographs do the talking for the splendid Alleppey Backwaters.

So, want to experience it all firsthand? I shall be happy to lead a trek to these sites during the Winter Break 2020. Let’s embark on a journey like no other!

The Crypto Call Option

I can remember the first time I heard about Bitcoin, I was sitting in a shared office with a co-worker back in 2013 when he described a new digital currency that was gaining some notoriety.  I did some quick research and wrote it off as a passing fad that was fueled by cyber criminals and tech speculators.   I did not think much about it again until the Fall of 2017 when its soaring price garnered headlines across the business world.  I recognized the bubble and, since I did not want to deal with a crypto exchange, I bought some shares of Greyscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), whose price is correlated to the price of Bitcoin.  I watched its value soar until it hit its high of $19,783.06 on December 17, 2017, then sold my shares as my shares’ price plummeted.  At that point, I took my profits and dismissed Bitcoin.

 

However, this year I began to take notice of it again.  I watched the price climb from the mid-$3,000s in January to $8,000 in May.  This performance got my attention and led me to do some deeper research on Bitcoin.  What struck me was its resiliency.  Bitcoin has gone through two bubbles, from 2013-2014, when its price rose from $13 to $1,163, before declining to $152 in early 2015.  Then again in the aforementioned 2017 boom and crash.  Although its price is volatile, there is clearly underlying value in this asset because it has been able to rebound following these two crashes.  After doing my research, I concluded that buying Bitcoin is, essentially, a call.  In the coming decade I think one Bitcoin will either be worth well over $100,000, or nothing depending on a number of factors.

In doing my research I found that people fell into two camps: crypto evangelists and crypto skeptics, with few in the middle.  I put myself in the rare third category as a crypto realist.  I recognize both the potential and the risks of Bitcoin and other crypto assets such as Ripple and Litecoin.  The following is a succinct explanation of my line of thinking on both angles:

Why Bitcoin could be worth more than $100,000

I draw from both my personal experience traveling around the world and a study of Bitcoin’s performance over the past decade to see its potential to exceed $100,000.  Although most in the United States do not experience it, paying for goods and services is challenging in many areas in the world.  Typically, people use cash and I was surprised to see that many vendors do not have reliable credit card payment systems.  I remember travelling to Zimbabwe in 2017 when many ATMs had simply run out of money.  It was thus next to impossible to buy anything.  However, I noticed that many of the people I interacted with had smartphones.  A global, digital currency that can be used for direct, peer-to-peer payment would solve the banking issue many experience.  Thus, global adoption could skyrocket, driving up Bitcoin and other crypto asset’s prices.

From a data-driven standpoint, a conversation with Dan Morehead, CEO of Pantera Capital, on the Unchained podcast drew my attention to Bitcoin’s incredible growth potential.  He highlighted the fact that, looking at Bitcoin’s price on a logarithmic scale, it has grown at a 235% CAGR.  Using this growth rate, it will only take a couple of years for one Bitcoin to be worth more than $300,000.  Although this number seems crazy, Morehead highlights the fact that he first thought Bitcoin would be worth more than $5,000 when it was selling for $100, and no one thought this would be possible.  As we have seen Bitcoin cross the $1, $100, $1,000, and $10,000 thresholds, doubters have seen each next level as unattainable.  So, why should Bitcoin not reach the $100,000 mark in a few years?

Why Bitcoin could be worth $0

It seems Bitcoin’s price is largely driven by speculation on its viability as a global payment system.  I personally do not view my cryptocurrency as anything I would spend, but rather as an asset I am holding.  Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency’s volatility makes its adoption as a currency difficult.  Right now, people either keep their cryptocurrency stored on hard drives or in crypto exchanges such as Coinbase.  Unless it becomes widely used as currency, people will rely on exchanges to convert their crypto assets into government backed currency.  My thought is that, should cryptocurrency threaten big banks’ business in financial transactions, the banks will work to maintain their business model.  The easiest way it seems to accomplish this end is to block withdrawal from crypto trading platforms to an individual’s bank account.  If this is the case, the value of crypto will plummet unless it has already become a globally accepted currency that has largely replaced government backed currency, which is a highly speculative proposition.

So, do I think you should invest in cryptocurrency? Yes, absolutely.  It seems that the asset has incredible growth potential, resiliency, and has proven skeptics wrong time and time again.  How much do I recommend you invest?  Only as much as you are ok to lose.

On-demand Sports

Wharton people are busy people. When we look at our double and triple booked calendars, with all those EIS, networking dinners, and small group dinners, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Often, the first things that go are the “lower priority” ones: sports and recreation. Activities that are essential for our mental and physical health.

Playing regular sports as an adult can be mentally effortless and exhilarating. Of those adults who play sports, more than half reported in a Harvard study that it has reduced their stress (58%), improved their mental health (54%), or improved their physical health (51%).

A Harvard study found that three in four adults played sports when they were younger, but only one in four still play. Another research shows that around the age of 26, an average adult stops playing most active sports.

Alas, when you finally have breathing room, you are so exhausted that you default to going to Pottruck, or if you are lucky, the gym in your building. You can barely remember the excitement during Club Pub: when you told yourself you would engage in stretch experiences and signed up for three sport clubs. Three months in and that fancy tennis racket that you were going to “use every weekend” has been accumulating dust. But what if you could play your favorite sport on demand? What if when suddenly that networking dinner or that team meeting gets cancelled, you felt an itch to play your sport?

Nirupam Anand WG’20 & I re-imagined adult sports at Seamless Sports. We match people with similar sports interests, playing levels, availability, and location to create an on-demand sports experience. You simply choose your location and sport, and when you are free. We work in the background to find you other players and book a facility (e.g. a tennis court) near you.

And who knows, maybe you will have your stretch experience after all.

Wharton Christian Fellowship: Faith & Fun on Campus

The Wharton Christian Fellowship (“WCF”) seems to have taken on new life this semester. WCF is about living your faith and having fun while you’re at it. Within just a few months, a member of WCF spoke at a Storytellers Slam, the group hosted several small group dinners and attended a Poets in Autumn event when the famous spoken-word performance group was live in Philly. We have weekly Bible studies, and we have joint Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners planned with the Penn Christian Fellowship. WCF had a strong start this semester, but truthfully, the best is still yet to come.

For our kick-off event of the year, the WCF hosted a “First Supper” on the 21st floor of 1919 Market Street. Close to 30 first and second-year students attended. It was a great time of food and fellowship as returning and new members had the opportunity to introduce themselves and get acquainted. “I’ve never seen this many people at WCF event before,” said a returning second-year student.

Riding the momentum from the kick-off event, the WCF headed to R2L for restaurant week and went to a Poets in Autumn show afterward. Comedians at the show joked about the realities of being a single Christian and made light of the more comical sides of being human and living for God. WCF members brought partners, and shared laughs that I’m sure that all of us will remember for the foreseeable future.

WCF isn’t strictly internally focused. We actively seek opportunities to connect with the Wharton community. As a Co-President of WCF, it was a huge honor to speak at a Storyteller’s Slam in September. I shared my testimony about what my life was like before I committed to a personal relationship with Jesus. It was a stretch experience that allowed me to share parts of my story and to discuss how I navigate living out my faith at Wharton. (For everyone who supported me prior, during, and after that event, I truly thank you.)

One of the best nights for WCF this semester was a movie night when we watched The Case for Christ. We had snacks galore and enjoyed the film about former atheist Lee Strobel’s eventful conversion to Christianity. We cracked jokes about the 80s references throughout the film. Most of us stayed after the movie, hung out and got to know one another. No one discussed careers, recruiting, or what they did before Wharton. In fact, at the end of the evening, someone started beatboxing, and we randomly started to sing our favorite worship songs. We saw the potential and we’re hosting an acapella Worship Night in December. (Please feel free to join us if you can!)

Creating a community for members is an unquestionably important aspect of WCF. We’re a club that truly exists for everyone who is not yet a member. We have weekly Bible Studies and we’ve recently launched a weekly prayer night. Join us on GroupMe at Wharton Christian Fellowship, or you can join our Slack channel #christianclub. Our members and their partners are unique, and everyone has something valuable to add to the fellowship. You’re sure to find someone like you, or a need for someone like you, if you come out.

The ‘Power’ to Change the World

That alarm which wakes you up in the morning, annoying yet indispensable for your schedule … That microwave which warms your food, so that you can grab a quick bite before rushing to work or school … That automobile that safely transports you to work/school, unless you choose to walk … Do you realize how dependent you are on technology today? This was not the case always!

I remember my first overseas student exchange program to Spain, in 2009, and I remember traveling across the country, navigating with the help of just paper maps. Smartphone did not seem essential to me ten years ago, but now I can’t think of surviving a day without one! The more you think about the impact of technology on your life, the more you will realize how it has been guiding the evolution of mankind. Don’t you want to contribute to this driver of the future of the entire planet, and beyond?

How exciting it would be to introduce a gadget that will change the way people plan their day. I thought for months what may that gadget be? I did a lot of research, mostly while commuting and mostly on my phone, and my phone was always low on charge. I forgot to carry my battery backup, almost every single day. My charger hardly got plugged out of the socket above my desk. I almost never used the public charging stations because I was always on-the-run, and I am sure that I am not the only one! Result? Often found myself stuck in the middle of nowhere, without a functional mobile phone. Sounds familiar?

I remember that one day, back in 2016, I was visiting a prospective client at a very remote location. I had taken a cab to the meeting; however, on the way back, I could not find any. Just when I wanted to use the Uber app, I was shocked to see that my phone had run out of charge. A group of strange men stared at me as I walked past them, without even knowing if I was moving in the direction of the nearest bus stop. It was scorching, 91°F, and I felt helpless and scared. I was vehemently shaking my phone, as if the motion would induce some charge. Wait, what if it could? What if I had something with me which I could just shake to generate power? What if I could harvest energy from motion and use it to charge my phone? Suddenly, as if it was a sign from the Universe (that I was on the right track), I saw something yellow in the far end of the seemingly endless lane. I was never happier to see such a dilapidated yellow Taxi that stopped and asked me where I wanted to go. Sitting in the car, all I could think about was the device that would generate charge from motion. Thus, started my research on Personal Energy Generator (PEG) technology and brainstorming on how to integrate this technology with things that people will not forget to carry with themselves.

My Wharton journey started with a blast. Wharton being my career switch to Finance, I dived into ‘Finance’ right at the start! The hectic Investment Banking recruiting kicked in after the mid-sems. However, I never forgot one other thing that I wanted to work on during my Wharton journey, something that has the potential to change lives. I named this venture ‘PowerMove’ and it is now a part of the Venture Initiation Program – Philadelphia (VIP-C).

The idea behind PowerMove is to leverage PEG technology in generating power for the gadgets that we move around with. Initially I conceived it as a wristwatch or fitness tracker, enabled with PEG, generating power from hand movements. This device shall double as a portable cell phone power bank; a ‘Green’ product that grants one the ‘Power’ to be in control of one’s life, the ‘Power’ to make a statement, and the ‘Power’ to save the planet in every move. Unlike the competing products such as, the mobile cases which have inbuilt battery backup, PowerMove shall the generate power-on-the-go and clean energy. PowerMove will generate power anytime, anywhere; you just need to ‘move’. The main challenge is the bulkiness of PEG technology that will be used, and in fact, this is a challenge for all mobile battery backup devices.

With the VIP-C Award, I have access to shared workspace, elaborate database, group advising, monthly workshops, and more, and currently I am researching how I can reduce the size of the PEG and integrate it with a wristwatch/fitness tracker so that it is always on the wrist in times of need. VIP-C mentors have been really supportive and encouraging. It is obvious that this technology will become more compact with time; in fact, around the year 2017, the Vanderbilt University had prototyped a jacket with ultrathin energy harvesting device that generates energy even from slow human motions and can be used to charge phones. The future looks optimistic and next semester onward, I would love to know what our Penn Engineers think about it.

My focus now is to integrate PEG technology with backpacks, before the evolution of the PEG technology into miniature, yet efficient, forms that are suitable for watches. People like me, who are always carrying backpacks, can wield the benefits of this amazing renewable energy technology immediately. I am looking forward to work with anyone who has the passion for or the experience in the energy sector, and/or finds the idea interesting. If we want our future generations to live healthy and long lives, we have no other option but to resort to clean energy in all micro-level and macro-level aspects. This is the time to take control, this is the time to change our destiny. Let’s ‘move’ towards a sustainable future, and change the world!

 

 

 

 

On Respect for Elders

Wharton is an eclectic group of individuals. From investment analysts with two years of work experience on the trading floor to twenty-year military Veterans, we’re all at different stages and points in our careers. However, with the onset of the A.I./Big Data/exponentially fast-changing technological trends (call it whatever you want), I think many of us are prioritizing cutting-edge skill acquisition over tried and true experience-based knowledge.

I recently had a discussion with a professor about how different the classroom is today from years past. The fact that there is now competition between veteran PhD’s who have toiled for years in their subjects and computer screens displaying the latest Bloomberg article or python coding guide is more evidence of this issue. With such a complex modern economy, it almost feels like you’re behind if you can’t explain the latest time management software to your learning team. What this information overload is really doing is deprioritizing the traditional way of asking a professor for advice in search of quicker but not always better learning methods.

My argument is that listening to the humans who have accumulated years of knowledge and are tasked with educating us is a better use of time than spending hours on some website trying to discover how to code the front-page of that wine-tasting startup you had an idea for. My fear is that professor-student interactions will decrease and the classroom will become ever more transactional.

One solution to this issue is to begin by thanking our elders, showing respect toward those that have paved the way before us. Recently, I sent a thank-you to a speaker who came to talk to us. His response shocked me when he said that after years of coming to talk, he never once had a student write him a thank you email. Clapping at the conclusion of a course or taking a professor to lunch isn’t really enough to show appreciation for the time they’ve taken to stand up in front of the room and try to impart some wisdom on us. Don’t get me wrong, there are bad courses and occasionally professors who don’t try their hardest, but a level of gratitude for those who have imparted wisdom should be warranted. As our generation becomes the “break it down to build it up” generation of disruption, one thing that shouldn’t be replaced is our traditional values of gratitude toward those that are older.

 

 

My Journey to Belonging at Wharton

Note: I am writing this article to share my journey to belonging and reflect on the evolution of my Wharton experience. I hope that it will resonate with 1Ys, who might feel alone in their experience.

“Business school was the best time of my life!” Almost every MBA alumnus is notorious for uttering these words about their experience. To be honest, I will probably be one of them after I graduate. However, during this time last year, I had officially given up all hopes for having “the best time of my life” at Wharton.

When I started at Wharton last year, it had been over half a decade since I was a student. And boy was it obvious when Pre-term began. I remember walking into the welcome reception on the first day, seeing thousands of new faces, and making an immediate U-turn out. I figured it was just the first day jitters and I would bounce back quickly. The next week, I was so excited to be invited to my first Wharton party. But when I got there, I felt so out of place amidst the hundreds of strangers, beer pong tables, and the small talk. I spent less than ten minutes before quietly Irish exiting.

I just did not get it. Everyone seemed to be having an amazing time making new friends at these big events. I, on the other hand, could not move past the tiring trifecta of questions (if you must know, I’m from San Francisco, I worked at Lyft, and I plan to get into nutritional wellness/food). For the first couple weeks, I left every social event feeling overwhelmed by the number of conversations I had and underwhelmed by the depth of these conversations. To add a cherry on top, I do not particularly enjoy drinking or going out, which seemed blasphemous at that time.

“Let classes begin, I’m sure things will settle down,” I convinced myself. But things did not get better when classes started. My cohort mates would bond over White Party stories and hockey practice while I awkwardly tried to contribute something to the conversation. I would quietly sit by myself at MBA cafe after class, pretending to read for my next class while I watched my classmates greet and catch up with each other with so much joy and kinship. It had been less than a month since classes started, but they all seemed to have found their crew and felt immediately at home.

My anxiety reached its peak when everyone started making Thanksgiving vacation plans. Everyone around me was planning epic adventures around the world, while I was still struggling to make friends. One day, I mustered up the courage to ask a friendly cohort mate what he was planning on doing for Thanksgiving. “Oh, me and my best friends are going to South America. I can’t wait!” he said casually. My heart immediately sank. BEST FRIENDS?! How did he manage to make best friends within a few months?! He and I started on the same path, and yet our experiences had diverged so quickly. Was my disdain for parties and large social events a death sentence?

I came home that night and thought to myself, “I made a major mistake. The people in business school are too superficial for me. I cannot have fun in business school with all the parties and socialization. I add no value to Wharton and Wharton adds no value to me.” I called up my mentor and proclaimed that I had made a mistake and I seriously considered quitting. After patiently listening to me rant, my mentor asked me a simple question: “When was the last time you were in a completely new environment, Anisha?” It had been almost a decade when I last moved to a new city to start my undergraduate degree. “How did you feel in those first few months?” “Horrible!,” I exclaimed. I didn’t know anyone, I missed my family terribly, and I wanted to go back to the comfort of familiar surroundings. “And how did you feel when you graduated after 4 years?” It was one of the best experiences of my life where I made lifelong friends and memories, I recollected.

So what had changed in those years? It was patience, trial and error, and intentionality behind relationships. Somehow, I had forgotten my difficult path to belonging and friendships in the past. I only remembered the end result, which is often beautiful and meaningful, and was frustrated that I was not able to immediately replicate it at Wharton. Of course, the constant positive dialogue among Wharton students didn’t help. Although well-intentioned, I kept hearing how amazing and fun everything was at Wharton. Not many talked about the hard parts of adjusting to Wharton. It made me feel self-conscious and doubt my own ability to belong.

After this realization, I accepted that it is perfectly normal to not hit the ground running when you make a cross-country move and change almost everything in your life. I also realized that I needed to carve my own path to belonging at Wharton, even if it meant doing things in a nontraditional, Anisha way. So, I doubled down on forming meaningful relationships the way that I felt most comfortable: one-on-one’s. Every day, I made it a point to have at least one coffee chat or lunch or walk with a classmate. Whether it is someone I had just met once at an event or a learning teammate that I wanted to know outside of MGEC problem sets, it was all about moving past the small talk. I initiated every chat and followed up. I began to uncover an unexpected, refreshing depth of complexity among people that I had cast off as shallow a few weeks ago. Soon enough, these one-on-ones eventually turned into group hangouts, such as game nights or dinner at my place. As an amateur cook, I love to experiment with cooking and these friends served as excellent guinea pigs. To this date, I bring together 5-6 people at my apartment every weekend for a meal or casual hangout.

These hangouts gave me the confidence to put myself out there and meet more people. So when it came to Thanksgiving, I boldly invited myself to that same South American trek that my cohort mate mentioned. In fact, I invited myself to a smaller follow-on trek to Atacama with three strangers that I had not met. I was committed to being uncomfortable. I was ok with not having a wonderful time immediately. That Thanksgiving trip turned out to be one of the most fun experiences I’ve had at Wharton. I never expected to have such an authentic and adventure-filled Thanksgiving in the middle of the Chilean salt flats with strangers who quickly became dear friends.

Did I return from Thanksgiving with best friends and a crew? Not at all. Am I now the most “popular” person that greets everyone at MBA cafe? Not even close. But, I did return with a strong appreciation for what Wharton can offer. As I began to invest more into the community, I got twice as much back. It was a gradual process to feel comfortable at Wharton, meet other like-minded people who enjoy small group settings, and are committed to authentic conversations. In fact, I would say that I only began feeling at home in January because meaningful relationships take time to build. And it is acceptable to have a bumpy road to this end state!

Now, as I am swiftly wrapping up my last year, I can’t help but be proud of my Wharton experience. The beauty of Wharton, from its size and community, is that there is something for everyone; you just have to make it happen and find your own path. We all worked so incredibly hard to get here, so let’s take full advantage of this opportunity. It might be difficult and awkward to forge your own Wharton experience, but that is perfectly normal.

To this date, I don’t have one single crew of best friends I always hang out with, I have not been to 99% of the big parties, and I took over 4 months to really feel like I belonged. But if anyone asks me about Wharton now, I proudly say,“I am having the best time of my life and I earned it!”